Proving the Existence of Jesus

Psychological Evidence

Another person Strobel interviewed was Gary R. Collins, PH.D. Collins has a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Toronto and a doctorate in clinical psychology from Purdue University. He was also a professor and chairman of psychology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for two decades. Strobel asked Collins if Jesus’ healing may have been psychological, the fact that people believed he had people healed them, similar to a placebo. Here was his answer:

“The placebo effect? If you think you’re going to get better, you often do get better. That’s well-established medical fact. And when people came to Jesus, they believed he could heal them, so he did. But the fact remains: regardless of how he did it, Jesus did heal them. Of course, he quickly added, that doesn’t explain all of Jesus’ healings. Often a psychosomatic healing takes time; Jesus’ healings were spontaneous. Many times people who are healed psychologically have their symptoms return a few days later, but we don’t see any evidence of this. And Jesus healed conditions like lifelong blindness and leprosy, for which a psychosomatic explanation isn’t very likely.” (Strobel 199-200)

This is a great explanation. I have a background in medicine, so I know there are disorders which can healed psychologically. There is nothing wrong with saying that some of Jesus’ healings may have been psychological. However, some of them were instantaneous, which were far beyond psychological. Strobel then asks the possibility of Jesus using hypnotism. This answer is long, so I will summarize:

1. Hypnotism doesn’t work on large crowds. Jesus multiplied bread and fish for 5,000 people.

2. Hypnotism doesn’t work on skeptics and doubters. James and Thomas both doubted Jesus’ resurrection until they saw him in person.

3. Hypnotism wouldn’t explain an empty tomb.

4. Hypnotism doesn’t explain Jesus turning water into wine, as Jesus never even suggested to the servants or guests that the water had turned into wine.

5. Hypnotism doesn’t explain an instantaneous and complete healing ten lepers in Luke 17. Although hypnotism has healed ichthyosis, it took 5 days to begin working and another several more days to appear normal, according to the Brittish Medical Journal.

What about hallucinations? Is it possible that everyone who saw Jesus three days after his day hallucinated?

1 Corinthians 15:5-8 – and thet he appeared to Cephas, then to the tweleve, afterwards he appeared to above five hundren brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain till now, and certain also did fall asleep; afterwards he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. And last of all – as to the untimely birth – he appeared also to me (YLT)

1 Corinthians tells us that Jesus appeared to Peter, then the tweleve disciples, then 500 people at once, then James, then the apostles, and finally Paul. Here is what Gary Habermas, PH.D. D.D., an author of seven books dealing with Jesus rising from the dead had to say:

“Hallucinations are individual occurrences. By their very nature only one person can see a given hallucination at a time. They certainly aren’t something which can be seen by a group of people. Neither is it possible that one person could somehow induce a hallucination in somebody else. Since a hallucination exists only in this subjective, personal sense, it is obvious that others cannot witness it.” – Gary Habermas and J.P. Moreland, Immortality: The Other Side of Death (Nashville: Nelson, 1992), 60.

In addition to this, Habermas points out that people who hallucinate have some kind of anticipation or expectancy, while the disciples were fearful, doubtful, and in despair. Therefore, none of the disciples were good candidates for hallucinations. Hallucinations cannot be induced by another person, and they certainly cannot be seen by a group of 500 people at the same time. So there is absolutely no reason to believe that any of the witnesses to see Jesus were hallucinating.

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